Recently I posted about the appointment of Siún Ní Raghallaigh as the new managing director of Ardmore Studios. On Wednesday studio management informed staff that seven are to lose their job in the next 6 – 8 weeks. It is my understanding that the restaurant will close, and all maintenance staff are among those losing their jobs, plus some job losses in administration. Timing for any job losses is never good, but for the staff loosing their jobs it will be heartbreaking coming in the days before the new Ashford Studios goes into full production on the series of Vikings.
Earlier this year main stakeholders Paul McGuiness and Ossie Kilkenny sought €500K from the Irish Film Board to keep the studios open. (The State holds a 31.67% interest in Ardmore Studios Ltd through Enterprise Ireland)
It could be said that the opening of the new Ashford studios has had a detrimental effect on Ardmore’s future. The loss of the new 10 part series for the History Channel Vikings would have kept the Ardmore busy for another year. However it could be argued that primary reason for Ardmore’s decline has been lack of investment in the sound studios and it’s over reliance on Morgan O’Sullivan (World2000) to fill its sound stages.
Another issue which has dogged Ardmore for a number of years are some of it tenants have paid small or no rent an issue, without any resolution. There are of course many other reasons such as an overall decline of film production worldwide, Netflix and other changing technologies.
The second series of Chris O’Dowd’s ‘Moone Boy‘ has just commenced production with offices at Ardmore and some sound stage work. And a new series called ‘The Ice Cream Girl’ (Octagon Films) is currently considering Ardmore as a base and possibly using the sound stages. The successful BBC drama Foyles War is due to commence a new series in Dublin shortly although it is though there would be no sound stage work required.
There has always been a practice of using vacant buildings for TV work, but in recent years that has become more prevalent with a lot of NAMA controlled properties offering low rents to production companies to keep them occupied. This is an issue that the new Managing director of Ardmore and the Irish Film Board need to discuss with the Minister as it currently stand Ardmore Studios cannot compete on price with NAMA controlled property.
In other new its rumoured that the Irish Film Board will provide over €1million through loan/grant to the makers of At Swim Two Birds directed By Brendan Gleeson. I understand that all studio work will be done in Luxembourg as part of a co-production agreement.
The loss of 7 jobs at Ardmore in the coming weeks is a big blow, it remains unclear if Ardmore’s stakeholders wish to rationalise its current operation or if an eventual wind down is on the cards. With over half a century of film making at Ardmore its closure would be tragic, but in today brutal business reality keeping pace with changing markets is essential.
Ardmore’s was a monopoly in a very lucrative market in Ireland, it became complacent appearing to have fallen into the trap because “we are the only” custom studios in Ireland producers will come here regardless. Filming is an industry with a very structured template that can be accomplished anywhere in the world, while Ardmore stood still in recent years studios all over Europe and the rest of the world were investing and planning for the next 20.
Ardmore its no longer a monopoly in Ireland, with Ashford studios less than 20 miles away and The Paint Hall Studios, in Belfast competition on standards, services and price has entered a whole new era in Ireland.
Categories: Film and TV